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Houston resident Troy McWhorter was to be released in October from a Texas prison to which he was sent this year for stealing truck equipment. However, if it were not for the efforts of the Harris County Cold Case Unit, he would soon be preparing to enjoy that freedom.

New evidence linking McWhorter to a murder that happened over a decade ago will derail McWhorter’s freedom. He now faces capital murder charges in the 2004 killing of a Houston woman who had served in the U.S. Army and helped rear six children.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office provides details of the new findings: “The new charge, which could carry the death penalty, was filed [Wednesday] by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit, which was resurrected by Sheriff Adrian Garcia when he took office in January 2009. Since then, the unit — investigator sergeants Bobby Minchew and Eric Clegg and research assistant Rebecca Sweetman — has brought charges against 13 killers who took the lives of a total of 15 people in cases that had been considered dormant and unresolved for several years.”

“Why there was not an active Cold Case Unit before, I have no idea. But (on taking office) I considered it a total disrespect to the surviving victims in these murders,” Sheriff Garcia said in a statement. “I am proud of these crime-fighters who have been working tirelessly to help bring closure to the extent that we can to these families and the memories of the victims.”

After Texas prison officials obtained a DNA sample from McWhorter this year after a probation violation, a DNA database matched his genetic material with the DNA found on the abandoned body of 36-year-old Shonda Alexander. According to the HCSO, she was killed July 21, 2004, in northwest Harris County.

“McWhorter had not been among the original suspects in the initial investigation of Alexander’s murder. But after the DNA match, the investigators found that McWhorter had lived in the neighborhood where Alexander and other prostitutes were frequently seen. Alexander, after an honorable discharge from the Army, had separated from her husband and become addicted to crack cocaine,” according to investigators with the case.

Minchew and Clegg interviewed McWhorter in prison in Edinburg, Texas, and filed the charges based upon the DNA they obtained and it being an exact match and their interview with McWhorther.

Minchew recently called Alexander’s family in Oklahoma and told them the cold case of their loved one had been solved.

“There’s no better feeling in law enforcement that I think of,” Minchew stated after calling the family of Alexander.  “Maybe they can sleep better at night,” he added.

Cold Case Unit Solves 15th Murder  was originally published on